Pretty obviously, most of the 1,900-odd schools who “expressed an interest” in becoming an academy when the rules changed only did it to get hold of information about what was on offer. Jolly sensible too. It never meant that they wanted to become academies and I’m astonished that Michael Gove was able to get away for so long with the pretence that there was a tidal wave of enthusiasm for the scheme which justified the way the Bill was swept through parliament. The fact that only 153 schools actually want to take up the offer having seen what it entails shows how far they still have to go to persuade anyone of the value of the approach.
Anecdotal evidence from this part of London suggests that, at a meeting of school governors from across the borough, no-one spoke in favour of the scheme and there was huge concern about the potential effects on the support offered to all schools by the local authority. A period of properly managed communication and consultation about this – and about cuts to BSF – might have explained the thinking, avoided some of what its claimed are misunderstandings about the approach (they’re not stopping all capital spending on schools, although have managed to give the impression that they are), and, who knows, built a bit of support. This might have meant that Mr Gove missed his chance to be first off the blocks with big cuts and new legislation in this shiny new government, but perhaps this is a case of more haste less speed?